Jukebox the Ghost

Safe Travels

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Safe Travels, an expertly crafted collection of radio-ready, melodious indie pop that combines the bright-eyed, shameless heart-thump of Fun., the quirky genre-juggling of Foster the People, and the classic rock posturing of Ben Folds, is precious enough to weed out the cynics and stoic enough to earn their respect should they decide to ride the whole thing out. The third studio album from the New York (by way of Philly) trio of Ben Thornewill, Tommy Siegel, and Jesse Kristin, is a steadier and decidedly more confident outing than 2010’s spotty but likeable Everything Under the Sun, but it retains the latter's penchant for balancing big hooks with progressive rock structuring, and engaging melodies with clever lyrics. Infused with a heady mix of heartache, joy, and refreshingly unobtrusive spirituality, Safe Travels is a nervous breakdown with a hard candy shell that pits the metaphysical guitar pop of Siegel (“Oh Emily,” “Dead,” “Ghosts in Empty Houses”) against the Billy Joel/Freddie Mercury-inspired piano pop (“Somebody,” “Adulthood,” “Everybody Knows”) of Thornewill, with no clear winner. Big earnest choruses, prog rock-informed breakdowns, and serpentine, Todd Rundgren-designed bridges abound, resulting in a winning, if a little overly earnest, collection of millennial retro-pop that feels like a well-intentioned, if slightly awkward, high five.

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